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5 Rapes Linked To Fake Uber Driver Preying On Women Leaving Bars: Charges

By Erica Demarest | September 27, 2017 3:00pm
 DNA evidence has linked Musaab Afandi, 33, to three Chicago rapes. He's charged in two Skokie rapes.
DNA evidence has linked Musaab Afandi, 33, to three Chicago rapes. He's charged in two Skokie rapes.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A man charged in five Chicago area rape cases picked up one victim in a taxi and kidnapped four others by pretending he was an Uber driver, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Musaab Afandi, 33, was denied bail after DNA evidence linked him to three Chicago cases. In each attack, authorities said, Afandi preyed on women leaving bars and restaurants in Lakeview and River North.

He was previously arrested in Skokie in March and charged in two similar suburban rape cases, court records show. Both are still pending.

The first known Chicago attack happened April 10, 2016, after Afandi picked up a 21-year-old woman who'd been hanging out with friends at Mullen's On Clark, 3527 N. Clark St., Assistant State's Attorney Jillian Anselmo said during a bond hearing Wednesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2650 S. California Ave.

The victim had hailed a ride using the Uber app on her phone, prosecutors said, and was waiting outside.

Afandi pulled up to the bar and indicated to the victim that he was her Uber driver, Anselmo said. According to authorities, Afandi has has no affiliation with the ride-sharing app. He did not know the victim.

Once in the car, the victim soon realized Afandi was taking a strange route to her home, prosecutors said. When she asked him to pull over, Afandi complied — only to climb into the backseat and rape the woman, Anselmo said.

The victim repeatedly tried unsuccessfully to stop the attack, unlock the car doors and escape to the front seat, according to prosecutors. Afandi stole the woman's phone, which he eventually returned once she promised not to report the rape.

An arrest report lists Afandi at 5-foot-8 and 200 pounds.

Afandi let the woman go, and she sprinted several blocks before calling a friend and reporting the attack in the 4500 block of North Damen Avenue, Anselmo said. A rape kit was collected at a local hospital.

DNA from that kit would later prove to be a match to Afandi.

On Dec. 11, 2016, Afandi abducted another stranger, prosecutors allege — this time a 27-year-old woman who was leaving a work Christmas party at Farmhouse Chicago, 228 W. Chicago Ave.

The victim remembers getting into a taxi and waking up naked with Afandi raping her in the backseat of the car, prosecutors said. The victim was pinned down and unable to escape.

An arrest report lists Afandi's profession as "taxi driver."

Neither prosecutors nor Assistant Public Defender Marc Davidson discussed Afandi's current profession in court Wednesday. Davidson did say Afandi takes classes and previously worked as a home health care provider.

After the Dec. 11 rape, Anselmo said, the victim ran away and reported the attack to a good Samaritan in suburban Skokie. DNA evidence from the victim's rape kit would later be proven to match Afandi.

Police confiscated Afandi's phone after his initial Skokie arrests earlier this year, according to Anselmo. On the phone were photos of the 27-year-old woman's face and vagina that had been taken on Dec. 11, 2016. There is also a video that captures the victim's voice, prosecutors said.

A month later, on Jan. 15, Afandi kidnapped a 25-year-old woman who'd been drinking with friends at Old Crow Smokehouse, 3506 N. Clark St., until roughly 3 a.m., according to Anselmo.

The victim's friends left together in an Uber while the victim stood outside waiting for her separate Uber ride, prosecutors said. When Afandi pulled up outside the bar, the victim got into the backseat of his vehicle.

The woman soon realized something was wrong when Afandi pulled over on a side street, prosecutors said. She tried to escape, but Afandi pinned her down — limiting her ability to breath, according to Anselmo.

As the victim begged Afandi to stop and tried to fight him off, prosecutors said, but he raped the woman. She ran away after the attack and asked for help inside a nearby restaurant in the 2200 block of West Irving Park Road, Anselmo said.

The victim was taken to a nearby hospital, where a rape kit was collected. DNA evidence from that kit later proved to be a match to Afandi.

He is charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual assault. The suburban Glenview resident has no prior criminal history beyond the two pending Skokie rape cases, according to court testimony.

In each of those cases, Afandi is accused of posing as an Uber driver, taking his victims to remote locations and raping them at knifepoint. One of the victims was able to get Afandi's license plate before he drove away, Anselmo said.

Cook County Judge David Navarro denied Afandi bail.

An Uber spokeswoman on Wednesday urged customers to check out an Uber campaign designed to combat ride-share scams.